Tourism operators discuss communication, DMCs and security


16-January-2012

Mr St Ange (at podium) addressing the meeting on Friday

The newly appointed chief executive of the SHTA, Raymond St Ange, said there is a need for everyone to come aboard to communicate what needs to be done as, he said, there are difficult times ahead.

“Communication is the key. We must keep communication open with government and see that it flows back as well.”

Among those present at the gathering at the International Conference Centre was the Secretary of State in the President’s Office, Barry Faure, who is also chairman of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB).

Mr St Ange also stressed the need for well-balanced tourism development. “It is the beauty of our islands, which tourists  come here for. Other extras, such as the melting pot population, the unique Creole cuisine and services, become the icing on the cake.”

Noting that the SHTA was no “one-man show”, he said some leading figures in their fields, such as Roy Fonseka from the security field, Nicole Tirant-Gerardi, formerly secretary of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), have been approached to share their expertise with the association and scrutinize the industry.

In the first such presentation Friday, Mr Fonseka recalled the days when his mother, Kathleen, set up one of the first Creole restaurants in Victoria, in the early 1970s. He noted that crime was then virtually non-existent and his mum, who later won the STB Award for Excellence, only used her informal hosting and social skills to welcome visitors.

Mr Fonseka went on to stress that security is of paramount importance to every visitor.
He said that this is particularly relevant in a small island country such as Seychelles, where vacations are not long and the number of tourism sites limited. 

He also said there is no substitute for courtesy as far as visitors are concerned.
Mr Fonseka said that it is not only the bad publicity generated by instances of visitors getting mugged or robbed that impact negatively on the industry.  Just as bad, he noted, were cases where visitors are ripped off by unscrupulous vendors or overcharged for services.

Referring to the furore caused by the two fatal shark attacks at Anse Lazio last year, Mr Fonseka  said the possibility of a jet ski running over an elderly pensioner here for his first vacation, could be just around the corner and could cause even more ripples at a time when we least need these.

This set off a heated discussion focussing on the hazards of speed boats venturing too close inshore and constituting a heavy risk to swimmers. It appears that existing legislation prohibits boats to venture within 150 from shore while travelling at high speed. But the laws are not being enforced.

Praslin operators were particularly concerned by the swimming ban and the shark nets still present at Anse Lazio and claim that such measures are causing some visitors to avoid the island altogether. Swimming ban is also still in force in other areas such as Anse Georgette, Petit Anse Kerlan and St Pierre.

Anse Diri beach on Mahe. Tourists come here primarily for the beauty of our islands

It was also alleged that the nets are broken and torn, constituting more of a danger than anything else as sharks are bound to get trapped in them.

SHTA chairman Louis D’Offay urged operators to work closely with DMCs and to avoid cutting corners to gain short-term gains.  

He said DMCs were the ones selling Seychelles. “For sure, they earn a commission on the holidays they sell. But they act as trade fairs and bring business.”

He added that Seychelles has earned a good reputation, mainly because of DMCs.
“We must continue to blitz the market to remain visible,” Mr D’Offay said, and appealed once again for more funds to be made available to STB to pursue its marketing efforts abroad.

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